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Lesson Plan

Cut up, Cover up, and Come Away with Ideas for Writing!

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Cut up, Cover up, and Come Away with Ideas for Writing!

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

S. Rebecca Leigh

S. Rebecca Leigh

Rochester, Michigan


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology





  • Newspaper articles (features, hard news, obituaries, sports reports, etc.)
  • Black or dark, felt-tipped markers (chisel-tips are best)
  • A poem/piece of prose of your choice
  • Writer’s Notebooks or loose leaf paper
  • Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon
  • Optional: Other masking media besides markers (e.g., rubber stamps and ink pads, stickers, colorful papers and glue sticks)
  • Optional: The Humument by Tom Phillips


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  1. Obtain a copy of the book Newspaper Blackout by American writer Austin Kleon. A book about how to discover poetic forms in newspaper writing, Kleon draws the reader in with his unique and creative ways of redacting words with black marker from different sections of the newspaper. If you cannot find a copy of Newspaper Blackout, you can print examples of his blackout poems from his website at www.austinkleon.com. Another option is to locate Tom Phillips’ book The Humument, an equally evocative, vibrant, and colorful text where Phillips uses different masking media to cover up text.
  2. Provide each student with:
    • a writer’s notebook (e.g., store-bought or assembled using folders and a variety of lined and unlined loose-leaf paper)
    • a chisel-tipped marker (chisels are better than pointy tips because they will cover large areas)
    • a newspaper article (the length of the article does not matter)
  3. Before beginning this lesson, make sure that there has been a fair amount of free writing/creative writing/story writing done in class.  This lesson relies on students using a piece of their own writing that they have abandoned, so it would be beneficial for them to have multiple pieces to choose from before beginning this process.


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